ERC refuses to air conclusion before ending probe of W. Visayas blackout | Inquirer News

ERC refuses to air conclusion before ending probe of W. Visayas blackout

/ 10:51 PM January 10, 2024

Pedestrians walking past a building with the NGCP logo

Pedestrians walking past a building with the NGCP logo. (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on Wednesday refused to put the blame solely on the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) for the massive Western Visayas blackout.

“We’re not afraid of the NGCP. What we’re afraid of is that our ongoing investigation would be challenged and compromised by prematurely stating the conclusion,” ERC Chair Monalisa Dimalanta emphasized in Filipino during the Senate energy panel’s hearing.


Dimalanta made the remark after Sen. Raffy Tulfo, who was presiding over the hearing as the committee chair, criticized the ERC for its alleged refusal to admit NGCP’s lapses.


During the hearing, NGCP officials repeatedly claimed that the transmission system remained “normal and stable” despite the tripping of the Panay Energy Development Corp. (PEDC) Unit 1 —  one of the key factors behind the Western Visayas blackout.

NGCP’s persistence irked Tulfo who then prodded ERC if there was some truth to what the corporation was saying.

“We are still verifying it. What they are talking about is frequency and voltage. Those are items three and four in the six parameters of a normal state. So let’s see if they have a basis in saying that all six parameters of normal state were actually present in that situation,” Dimalanta said.

According to Dimalanta, it took the Interim Grid Management Committee about six weeks to complete its investigation and finish its report on a similar power outage incident that transpired in April last year.

‘P50 million fine if found negligent’

Later in the hearing, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian raised a theoretical question: If found negligent, what should be the penalty against NGCP?


Answering on behalf of the ERC, Dimalanta said that, under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, the ERC could impose only up to a P50 million fine against the NGCP if it should be found to have not complied with the Philippine Grid Code.

“Just for clarification: We will not go to, for example, the consumers in it either that were inconvenienced, but the P50 million will go to the [Bureau of the] Treasury. The ERC has no authority or mandate to impose or collect damages suffered by consumers,” Dimalanta said.

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Gatchalian then proposed that the penalty be pegged with the economic losses that the affected areas have experienced due to negligence and incompetence.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said in his city alone the local economy has suffered an estimated P500 million loss a day — or P2 billion in four days.

TAGS: Energy Regulatory Commission, Guimaras power outage, National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, Panay Island power outage, Western Visayas blackout

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